PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Rhode Island lawmakers voted Tuesday to decriminalize the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, replacing criminal fines and jail time with something more like a traffic ticket.
Under the legislation, adults caught with one ounce or less of marijuana would face a $150 civil fine. Police would confiscate the marijuana, but the incident would not appear on a person’s criminal record.
Minors caught with pot would also have to complete a drug awareness program and community service.
Current law makes possession of small amounts of marijuana a misdemeanor. Violators face possible jail time and fines up to $500.
The House passed the bill 50-24 Tuesday evening. Minutes later, the Senate endorsed the legislation 28-6. The House and Senate must sign off on the other chamber’s bill before the measure heads to Gov. Lincoln Chafee.